Promotes Long Run Stability, Investment in Florida’s Signature Thoroughbred Industry


 OCALA, FL—The Florida Legislature passed a sweeping omnibus tax package (HB 7073) on March 8 that includes the extension of Florida’s all-time strongest Thoroughbred breeding and racing incentives and maintains state funding of Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) federal regulatory assessments.

In 2023, the Florida Legislature enacted a two-year breeding and racing stimulus package totaling more than $65 million. This year’s bill, HB 7073, removes a two-year statutory sunset and, if signed in to law by Governor Ron DeSantis, extends critical industry funding that annually includes:

•           $15 million in purses and/or facility improvements at Gulfstream Park, with a similar $5 million going to Tampa Bay Downs

•           $5 million for the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) breeding and racing incentives and/or promotions; and

•           $2.5 million in additional Florida-bred racing incentives

Coupled with more than $5 million in annual racetrack tax credits to offset HISA funding assessments, the recurring annual stimulus combines to about $32.5 million for Florida Thoroughbreds.

The extended annual funding provides long-term stability and enhances a Florida industry already on the upswing in 2024 thanks to new programs such as 20% statutory maximum breeder awards for Florida-breds in Florida races, $18,000 added for Florida-breds in maiden special weight and allowance races at Tampa Bay Downs, and all-time high FTBOA and Florida-Bred Incentive Funds in Gulfstream Park races. Overall breeder and stallion incentives increased more than 50% in 2024 while racing incentives gained 66%, combining for more than $15 million in FTBOA-backed incentives.

The FTBOA expresses sincerest gratitude to the Florida Legislature for its passage of HB 7073.

“First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank stalwart industry supporters Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) and House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast),” FTBOA CEO Lonny Powell said. “Without their leadership and commitment, the continuation of this economic development program would not be possible. I also give a huge salute to our Smith, Bryan and Myers lobby team, led by our rock stars Matt Bryan and Jon Rees. Florida is a rare jurisdiction in managing and navigating challenges and turning them into meaningful successes.”

“Once again, the legislative sponsors of last year’s breeding and racing development program stepped up in a big way,” FTBOA president George Isaacs said. “I’d like to personally thank Marion County’s very own Representative Stan McClain (R-Ocala) and Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) for continuing their support of this program. We have also enjoyed support from the state’s legislative and industry leaders, including Representative Lawrence McClure (R-Dover).

“Led by CEO Lonny Powell, lobbyists Matt Bryan and Jon Rees, general counsel Warren Husband and a very talented staff

and dynamic board, we collectively are helping shape the vibrancy of the Florida breeding and racing industry through legislative efforts and good leadership decisions,” Isaacs added. “This will go a long way in ensuring a healthy industry for the future.”

FTBOA lobbyist Matt Bryan emphasized the leadership of Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson in this effort.

“Commissioner Simpson’s support of the Florida Thoroughbred industry is unwavering. As Commissioner of Agriculture, he has reinforced the economic impact and contribution of our breeders in the state,” Bryan said. “Florida remains the third-largest equine state by population with 335,000 head creating more than 112,000 jobs and it’s clear that Commissioner Simpson and our state elected leaders don’t intend to stop there. I am beyond thrilled that the House and Senate continue to invest in Thoroughbred breeding training and racing in this state.”

The Florida equine industry drives an estimated $12.8 billion contribution to the Florida economy, one-quarter of which comes from the $3.24 billion economic impact generated by Florida Thoroughbreds—an impact larger than the total combined contribution from all of Florida’s collegiate athletics. Florida is a perennial top-three producer of Thoroughbred runners, second-ranked source of national stakes-winners, and the global leader in racehorse training and juvenile sales.

“HB 7073 funds Florida’s obligations to HISA 100 percent, preserving industry purses and other resources for growth,” FTBOA Associate V.P. Steve Koch said. “A fully funded HISA, robust Florida-bred racing incentives and maximum breeder awards set three pillars upon which Florida has become a national benchmark of stability.”

HB 7073 now proceeds to Governor Ron DeSantis for his consideration. Upon receipt, the Governor will have 14 days to take action on the bill, or, if he does not act within that time, HB 7073 would become law without his signature.

Return to the March 11 issue of Wire to Wire